Updated: Jun 19, 2019
Legacy is a funny thing. Why do we remember the things we do about our loved ones? When I think about my father - the scientist, the religious agnostic, the humanitarian - the stories I remember most surprise me. Below I've shared a couple of stories that are part of my father's legacy!
A Thoughtful Letter
At my father's funeral, a man came up to me with a ziploc bag. He had traveled from Japan to attend the service, and wanted to show me why. Turns out that many years ago he was feeling disheartened and wanted to quit his scientific career, when he received a handwritten letter from my father which gave him the encouragement to carry on. Now he is happy and thriving, and credits my father's note, which he has saved in a baggie all these years like a treasure, as the catalyst to his recovery. Did my father know how important his thoughtful words would be? Maybe. All I know is that this man (who I did not know before that day) was so happy to be able to share this story with me, and I was happy to hear it! I was filled with pride and gratitude at this gesture. And it made me think...my father's legacy is that of someone who paid attention, not just to his family, but to others in his periphery, and then cared enough to tell them so. This legacy encourages me to not underestimate the value of a small gesture. It might mean the world to someone!
The World Is a Wondrous Thing (aka where is Dad?)
My family came to visit me in Santa Barbara, California. I was attending community college, having transferred from Connecticut as I muddled my way through a 6-year college degree. As we took the typical family stroll down the boardwalk by the beach, with volleyball players, sunbathers, and skateboarders bumping our elbows, my sisters and I suddenly realized that our father was no longer with us. We turned around and found him, face scrunched, peering quizzically at the side of a tree. There was no choice but for us to return to join him.
"Look at this!" he said excitedly as soon as we reached him, pointing at the tree. "You can tell when the storms hit...how much rain fell...and how quickly it grew...here!" The consummate professor, I remember the joy on his face, and his eagerness to share the discovery with us. I hear his voice now encouraging me whenever I stop and marvel at the world around me. My son, a fellow investigator, didn't get to meet my father in person, but he certainly received his gift of wonder. This legacy gives me the freedom to truly see the beauty of the world, and to take my time even if the rest of the world is whizzing by.
Now it's your turn!
What are some of your family's unexpected legacy memories?
Have you been impacted by the legacy of someone outside of your family?
Can you predict what parts of your legacy are going to leave the biggest impact?